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Ceilidh calling - the first dance

Mo the caller 10 Jan 10 - 11:40 AM
GUEST,squeezeboxhp 10 Jan 10 - 12:46 PM
Mo the caller 10 Jan 10 - 02:57 PM
Mr Red 11 Jan 10 - 10:32 AM
Mo the caller 11 Jan 10 - 12:02 PM
Mo the caller 07 Feb 10 - 12:09 PM
squeezeboxhp 07 Feb 10 - 12:48 PM
GUEST,FloraG 07 Feb 10 - 01:02 PM
Bert 07 Feb 10 - 01:13 PM
Mo the caller 07 Feb 10 - 03:22 PM
Bert 07 Feb 10 - 04:42 PM
Mo the caller 08 Feb 10 - 08:27 AM
GUEST,Mr Red 08 Feb 10 - 09:39 AM
Mo the caller 08 Feb 10 - 10:17 AM
Mo the caller 10 Feb 10 - 08:52 AM
GUEST,FloraG 10 Feb 10 - 02:16 PM
Bert 10 Feb 10 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,FloraG 11 Feb 10 - 04:26 AM
Mo the caller 11 Feb 10 - 03:26 PM
Mo the caller 11 Feb 10 - 03:46 PM
Bert 11 Feb 10 - 08:05 PM
GUEST,FloraG 12 Feb 10 - 08:24 AM
GUEST,FloraG 12 Feb 10 - 09:02 AM
Mo the caller 12 Feb 10 - 12:06 PM
Bert 12 Feb 10 - 06:51 PM
GUEST,FloraG 22 Feb 10 - 04:18 AM
Bert 22 Feb 10 - 08:04 AM
Mo the caller 22 Feb 10 - 08:05 AM
Mo the caller 22 Feb 10 - 08:19 AM
Bert 22 Feb 10 - 08:20 AM
Mo the caller 22 Feb 10 - 08:30 AM
Bert 22 Feb 10 - 08:34 AM
Mo the caller 22 Feb 10 - 09:09 AM
Bert 22 Feb 10 - 09:27 AM
GUEST,FloraG 23 Feb 10 - 03:11 AM
Bert 23 Feb 10 - 05:31 AM
GUEST,FloraG 24 Feb 10 - 03:47 AM
Mo the caller 24 Feb 10 - 06:04 AM
Mo the caller 24 Feb 10 - 06:05 AM
Mo the caller 24 Feb 10 - 06:34 AM
Bert 24 Feb 10 - 12:42 PM
Mo the caller 25 Feb 10 - 09:44 AM
Mo the caller 01 Mar 10 - 04:55 AM
Bert 01 Mar 10 - 10:56 PM
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Subject: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 10 Jan 10 - 11:40 AM

First an apology to anyone reading this more than once, as I shall post it where-ever I can think of, and if you think it might be useful please forward it

I have been thinking about how people learn to call.

I was lucky enough to be a member of a Country Dance club with Ron Burgess in charge of the callers' rota. Every now and then he went round and asked if anyone wanted to have a go, and he let me call one dance, one evening when he was calling, while he operated the tape recorder. So I had a friendly audience for my first attempts.

The next shock was when I tried to do a whole programme. I had a collection of dances that I had called already, but they did not make a balanced programme.

Calling for a club is in some respects easier than calling for a Ceilidh or Barn Dance. Some of our club members had a Barn Dance band, and when they let me go out with them I found the problems of calling to an unknown audience who might be less experienced, or contain more children or retired folk than suited the programme I had planned. So I had to quickly enlarge my repertoire and learn to be flexible.

I have seen with envy Oxfolk's scheme for mentoring callers for a Ceilidh series. I wondered if there might be a demand for something more basic, and enough people around here (mid-Cheshire or within travelling distance) who want to call a dance or two, for it to be worth meeting up and giving it a try. I am now in charge of our club callers' rota, and I encourage members who want to call, as I was encouraged. But not everyone is a club member, and some clubs have a regular caller firmly in charge, who does not encourage beginners.

To discuss the problems new callers might encounter, and arrange meetings to practise I have started a Yahoo group Ceilidh calling - the first dance

I shall no doubt find the pitfalls of running a group, as I go, so apologies in advance if things aren't just right, new and intending callers are welcome , we probably need some experienced hands to add their 2p worth to the discussion too.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: GUEST,squeezeboxhp
Date: 10 Jan 10 - 12:46 PM

work on the KISS principle keep it simple until the audience prove they are willing to listen and learn, never underesimate them or treat them like children as a lot of Teacher callers do or even worse square dance callers who think smiling is a crime


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 10 Jan 10 - 02:57 PM

Yes indeed, my motto for me KISS.(Keep it simple, stupid.)
My motto for the dancers "When in doubt, CHEAT"

But I always throw in one or two dances to stimulate (confuse), just for a laugh.
Every gig is different, so different dances can be used. That's the fun of it.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mr Red
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 10:32 AM

Mo

Have you read the list of helpdfull hints that E-Ceilidh list members and Catters provided that I posted on my site?
You might want to add to the list, from your own experience.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 12:02 PM

Lots of good stuff there already.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 07 Feb 10 - 12:09 PM

The news is that I am running a 'have a go at calling' session at Chester festival, probably on Sun May 30th. Live music.
I am trying to arrange a get-together before that, for those that want to practise. Possibly in my lounge, maybe on a Sunday afternoon. 3 interested but no date arranged so far.

Anyone interested please let me know,and put prefered dates on this calendar


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: squeezeboxhp
Date: 07 Feb 10 - 12:48 PM

Hi Mo
will be there Ken from Bradshaw if we are nor scheduled to perform


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 07 Feb 10 - 01:02 PM

What a good idea Mo. I don't live in your area but calling is something even experienced callers can get tips for. I remember the panic at reading 'double duple longways' - when I was first asked to call. Because I did not understand the words I ended up making up the dances I use from looking at other dances.

The caravan and camping club have a lot of callers in their folk section. They often run evenigs with a variety of callers and have always been kind enough to let me have a go trying out a new dance. The only downside is that what might work well for the experienced dancers in the folk group might not always work for novices.

I am feeling very pleased with myself as for the first time ever I called a longways progressive set last night with a group of mostly novice dancers and It did work. I must be getting better. I'd seen it on the internet- so I watched it lots of times to get it clear in my head and then learned the tune that went with it so I could call and play at the same time.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Bert
Date: 07 Feb 10 - 01:13 PM

Years ago the caller at our local square dance club started calling classes, then I joined The Callers club of Great Britain.

British association of American Square Dance Clubs

Callers Club of Great Britain


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 07 Feb 10 - 03:22 PM

Is that the variety of Square dance that wants everyone to go to classes for a year before they can go to a 'proper dance' on a Saturday?
We had a go at dancing that for a while. (We've tried and enjoyed allsorts)
The sort of things I call for is
1. club dances where a lot of people will know how to do a duple minor progression or a straight hey for 3 but we could have newcomers look in any week, and we integrate them and they pick it up as they go ("don't worry, we'll pull you through it")
2. parties, fund-raisers and weddings where, if they line up for a 4 couple longways dance without too much shoving around you think you are in for an easy evening.

All good fun.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Bert
Date: 07 Feb 10 - 04:42 PM

The modern stuff is, but there are loads of traditional and Fifties dances that are great for one night stands.

Take a Peek
Chase the Rabbit
Swap and Swing
Pop the whip
The Cowboy Loop
Texas Star
Coming 'Round the Mountains
Golden Slippers (Uptown, Downtown)
Hot Time in The Old Town Tonight

You might even try one or two of the early modern dances such as Around Just One of Chicken Plucker if you get a good crowd.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 08:27 AM

I sometimes call a dance that I have in an old book as 'Wild Goose Chase'. Now more often called 'Grapevine Twist'.
But I prefer the old name, and tell the leading man that it's HIS wild goose chase, accept no back seat drivers, they must follow where-ever he takes them. Then I demonstrate the 'official version' and let them loose.
Hmmm, I'd forgotten that one.
I used to do Coming round the Mountain until I wrote a varient of it the Liverpool Spider. (Silly dance but works in some settings).


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: GUEST,Mr Red
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 09:39 AM

I always reckon Horses Brawl is an easy dance to learn. Opinions differ but I observe carfully and see beginners do all sorts of things but remain in synchrony with the slip and jump to the end. And it doesn't need partners and it can be done with 6 - 10 people if you have to.

AND they enjoy it.   Unlike a lot of "murmerers" who can do far more "complex" dances!

Maybe it is just me, but I feel there is a need to "include" beginners and wall-flowers, and ladies who haven't had many dances tonight. But then I dance every dance and can afford a few that go astray.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 10:17 AM

Very much agree with the need to be inclusive. I was calling at a birthday party on Sat. The customers were keen and some had obviously danced before. So after I'd tired them with a long go of Barley Reel (until the band rebelled), we did the St. Bernard Waltz, and people who had been sitting out came onto the floor and enjoyed a gentle dance that they knew from way back in their youth.
I often start with Galopede. You can tell from the way they make up sets, even before you start the dance, what kind of an evening it will be. And plan the programme to suit.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 08:52 AM

If anyone wants an invitation to my House-Dance, either to dance or practise calling, please pm me.
I live near Kelsall (about a mile away from the site of the Chester Festival), there is room for about 8 couples to dance on my carpet.
Sunday afternoon Feb 28th from about 2. Some would-be callers are planning to get in a bit of practise before the workshop at the festival.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 02:16 PM

So what is your best first dance. Recently ive been using a circle mixer if its mostly inexperienced adults - right hand left hand 2 hands do si do promenade gents move on. Mix of american tunes

If its a mix of adults and children I've ben using a dance that fits the music redwing 4 couples ( but could be up to 6 ) longways sets

step      step   (forward)   clap clap clap (with partner)
step      step    back       stamp stamp stamp            repeat
do si do right and left
first couple down/ up/ cast/ arch with attitude.

Both dances get played slower to start with. I play and instrument while calling so I often start playing near the end of the second walk through. The rest of the band use this as an introduction.

I'd appreciate it if anyone ( everyone) could explain their usual/ best first dance as apart from horses brawl which I have always kept for near the end I dont know these dances mentioned.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Bert
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 05:23 PM

So what is your best first dance.

I often used to use a promenade mixer. Start with the couples promenading around

Ya know,

"Promenade all over the floor
find two more and circle four"

Then make it up as you go along, according to the aptitude of the crowd. Stopping and explaining when needed and adding as much complexity as you can get away with.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 04:26 AM

Bert - do you sing/ call this one - and if so to what tune?


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 03:26 PM

I start with the Big Set (Flora's first one), or Galopede. Good easy dances and they give a chance to watch how they make up sets, swing etc. Then I have a better idea how the evening will go. For weddings I have Road to the Aisle which tells a story of a date, a quarrel, stag and hen parties and ends with the Happy Couple going under a triumphal arch to the bottom of the set (to a snatch of the Wedding march, if they dance it in time to the music - but I may call it unphrased in one big set)

If the crowd are reasonable (not too many drunks or children) I throw in Barley reel later in the evening. It is a very simple dance that has 1st couple (double) Strip the Willow to the bottom as the only difficult figure. I tell them that there are many possible variations (deliberate and accidental) and as long as they get to the bottom it's fine. Then ask them to memorise the dance sequence in case the sets get out of time with each other. The 'dancers' like the Strip the willow, and the beginners don't mind a laugh, once they've had a chance to gain confidence.

I've made up a lot of my dances too - starting from regular dances and varying them to suit the ability of the crowd and the things I've seen go wrong.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 03:46 PM

Flora, would you like to join my Yahoo group
and share your experience? We have some very experienced callers, and some who want to try but haven't yet (plus 2 mystery members who have said nothing so far), but it sounds as if you are further along the road than the newbies, so that would help.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Bert
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 08:05 PM

Flora, It is just a plain hoedown, not a singing call. Any hoedown would be fine, I used to use 'Wake up Susan' a lot, but that was just 'cos I had it.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 08:24 AM

Thanks Bert. Do you have any other bits of the dance that rhyme?

Mo - I'll try to join your Yahoo group - but I'm sking next week so I'll be incommunicardo. ( and who knows what else sking at my age).


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 09:02 AM

Im not sure I can join Yahoo. I tried this before and it messed up my system. sorry.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 12:06 PM

Ah well. My technical knowledge goes as far as shouting for my son-in-law, so I can't help there.
Enjoy your trip!


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Bert
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:51 PM

Well Flora, you just make it up as you go along, or use it to introduce movements that you will use in the next dance.

"Circle right, go the other way back
make those feet go clickety clack"

If you were planning to call "Swap and Swing" later, you could use

"I'll swing your gal, you swing mine
gee oh golly ain't that fine.
I've got yours and she's too thin
so gimme back mine and swing again"

Or if you were going to call "Sally Gooden" then you would introduce a 'Do Paso' while you were circling
four.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 04:18 AM

Hi. I have a new hoby - looking to see how many people on the ski slope are older than me. There were some but a lot fewer than there used to be.

Bert - thanks for the reply. Because I play the lead instrument while I call I'll have to work on these at home before I try them out. I have to be able to play the tune without any thought as I concentrate on what the dancers are doing.

I was thinking I could do this dance as a cumulative dance - each time adding on one move then repeating the rest before a change of partners.

new partners
circle
do si do
hands accross in a square
swap and swing
star

- but then I ran out of ideas.   What is a Do Paso? I Know sally goodin as a tune.

What would you do for experienced dancers?   I thought of ladies chain. Can I pick brains for any more?

Do you ever get into groups of 6 or more?


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Bert
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 08:04 AM

Hi Flora,

A Do Paso is

Turn your partner by the left hand,
go all the way around to
your corner by the right
go all the way around (you can keep this going if you have measures to fill)

Sally Goodin as a dance is (well one version of it)

First couple bow and swing
Gent leads out to the right of the ring
Swing Sally Goodin with right hand 'round
and now your Taw (partner) with a left hand 'round
now the girl from Arkinsaw (Usually your corner, but varies, it being a traditional dance) with right hand 'round
and now your Taw (partner) with a left hand 'round
Across the hall go swing Grandma with right hand 'round
Go back home and everybody swing.

Try to get yourself along to an American Square Dance Club
where you will pick up lots of new stuff.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 08:05 AM

Ah, with folk dance clubs we are always the same age in relation to the other members (One club we went to said to us 20 yrs ago 'it's nice to see some young ones'. We are pensioners now but still the 'young ones')
I think the Do Paso might not be a beginner figure, and even experience dancers won't all know it from the name so you might need to walk it through (An expert caller with a keen crowd might be able to do it 'on the call' but I don't think I'd try).
The men right hand turn their partner, cross the set and left hand turn opposite lady, cross again and turn partner. Then usually join the other hand making a promenade hold and go round the other couple.

It's a very slick, tight move. The ladies stay where they are and let the men come to them.
The call can be chanted
Turn your Partner with a Righthand Round (4 beats/steps, Capital letters on the beat)
Opposite Lady witha Left hand Round
Back to your Own witha Right hand round
Promenade Go Once Around

I can't quite remember how many bars in total 8 seems to rush the promenade, 16 maybe be too long. If the next move was a swing that would take up the slack.

If you want a really cumulative dance you could start with just a partner, do right and left turns, then promenade and find another couple.

The flutter wheel is another move that some experienced dancers don't know. Can be a bit clumsy at first.
Ladies give right hand and cross to opposite man (like the start of ladies chain BUT) take his RIGHT hand in your left. Let him go ahead to lead you across the set (like a star promenade for only 2 couples). This leaves the ladies where they started, men crossed. Do it again if you want to get back.

When I do scatter mixer dances I tell people that if they can't find a couple then join another ring, or do it with their partner. And I sometimes deliberately increase the size of the circles towards the end. Last time, all in one big circle, circle left and right, in to the middle and out twice, swing partner till the music stops or your partner cries for mercy.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 08:19 AM

If you judge the crowd well you might put in a basket. With a rough crowd it might be dangerous, so I tend not to call it.
How about Wring out the Dishrag. Circle of 4. One couple makes an arch. Still keeping hands the other couple goes through the arch then turns back and arches over that couple. If you keep your hands high it probably doesn't matter which way you turn if your hands are low and you turn the wrong way you have to let go or break an arm. I've seen this done in a longways 4? couple set too. The lines need to be close or the arms long. All join hands. 4's arch, ones lead the rest down the middle and through the arch. All arch over the line.

There is a nice way of getting into a crosshand-basket, described in Hilary Herbert's dance Turnstile (in the book Hilary's Humours vol 2).


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Bert
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 08:20 AM

Do Paso might not be a beginner figure...

I never had any problem talking beginners through it on the fly.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 08:30 AM

How many bars of music for it Bert?


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Bert
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 08:34 AM

I dunno, I trained in Modern American Square Dancing which is not too particular about that. It takes about twelve steps If I remember rightly.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 09:09 AM

That would be without a promenade to follow.
As a Contra figure it usually has a promenade, but at a ceilidh I suppose you can do hat you will.
When you say 'on the fly' do you mean without a walk through do you walk it through?

How do you rate it for difficulty compared with a Ladies Chain? (assuming the crowd know neither, but slightly experienced dancers of English country dance tend to know a ladies chain)


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Bert
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 09:27 AM

Walk through it while they are dancing.

Teach them to promenade first then start dancing

"Promenade anywhere all over the floor
Find two more and circle four"

if they don't manage that, then say "join hands with another couple and move to the left" and keep the music going

"Turn and face your partner, give her your left hand
walk all the way around her and give your right hand to the other girl"

"Okay! keep going! back to your partner with a left, all the way 'round, now the other girl, That's your corner girl, with a right"

"That's it you've got it

Partner by the left with a left hand 'round
Corner by the right with a right hand 'round

Now circle left and don't be late
find four more and circle eight."

Now you have got them in a square, you can stop the music and teach them Sally Goodin using circle left and right as a break.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 03:11 AM

I'm half way there, Bert. Do you go round 2 or 3 times?
How do you avoid the men bumping into each other-do they go completely back to place after the first right hand?


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Bert
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 05:31 AM

...Do you go round 2 or 3 times?...

You go around your partner once and around your corner once, moving a path like a figure eight.

It is a filler movement that you can keep going as long as you need. And you can start it where you need too, it usually starts partner left but you can start it corner right if you like. YOU are the caller.

Because everyone is doing the same thing nobody bumps into anybody. For example when number one man is going towards his corner (number four lady), number four man is going towards his corner (number three lady) so they are nowhere near each other.

As a matter of interest, in early versions of the dance Sally Goodin, it was a regular full swing with each girl. The right and left hand swings was a later version.

Mo, I missed your earlier question. that answer is that it is much easier than the ladies chain 'cos everyone does the same thing and there is no courtesy turn.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 03:47 AM

Thanks Bert.

Can you think of any other moves experienced dancers could do. I usually deal with novices but I'm at the easter meet of the caravan and camping club this year and they mostly know what they are doing.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 06:04 AM

The thing I noticed with the switch from club dancers to beginners was that beginners couldn't remember long sequences of moves.
Experienced dancers can cope with a square with introduction, figure for 1s & 2s, intro again (or a new break), figure for 3s &4s, intro.

If you try to call a 64 bar dance with beginners they will start leaving bits out.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 06:05 AM

What figures do you already use?


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 06:34 AM

If you need a book of dances Hugh Stewart has written an excellent one. Elements of English Country Dance. There is an extract on line describing some figures. The book has loads of dances, and it tells you how hard they are and whether they are Ceilidh, Playford or Contra. It also gives hints about which dances to use in which situations.
Book costs £10 inc p&p from Hugh, you can order it on-line.
If you've not already got a library of dance books, and want to call in varied groups, that is the one to get. A good reference book.

The first third is background information and useful tips about clubs, ceilidhs, calling, bands, dance technique etc. the rest is the dances. A good mix. from dancing at clubs and festivals I recognise them (except some of the Contras which I don't do as much). They are all dances that are danced and enjoyed, unlike some books.
12 easy * ceilidh dances
7 moderate ** ceilidh dances
20 club level *** Contras
13 ** Playford and modern
41 *** Playford and modern
7 **** modern
3 ***** Playford

It is usually easier to call dances you have already danced.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Bert
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 12:42 PM

I have found that 'English' dancers find some of the Early Fifties American dances quite a challenge.

You could try them on 'Around just one' or 'Chicken Plucker'


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 09:44 AM

Just noticed that Rhodri Davies is running a Calling your first Dance workshop at IVF
in Durham, March 5 -7.
Very much to be recommended, if it's up his usual standard.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 04:55 AM

Well, 2 new callers called their first dances yesterday. And found out how much there is to think about!! I hope they've stopped shaking now.


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Subject: RE: Ceilidh calling - the first dance
From: Bert
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 10:56 PM

Ah yes! I still remember calling my first dance. I still haven't stopped shaking:-)


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Mudcat time: 18 July 8:24 AM EDT

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